Transhumanism: The Most Dangerous Idea? "What ideas, if embraced, would pose the greatest threat to the welfare of humanity?" That question was posed to eight prominent policy intellectuals by the editors of Foreign Policy in its September/October issue (not yet available online). One of the eight savants consulted was Francis Fukuyama, professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, author of Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, and a member of the President's Council on Bioethics. In his Foreign Policy article, Fukuyama identifies transhumanism as "a strange liberation movement" that wants "nothing less than to liberate the human race from its biological constraints." Human liberation from our biological constraints began when an ancestor first sharpened a stick and used it to kill an animal for food. What is a human capacity anyway? Our ancestors had no wings; now we fly. Let's take their over-the-top scenario down a notch or two.
Microsoft Research uses Kinect to translate between spoken and sign languages in real time - StumbleUpon 30 October '13, 08:31pm Follow Microsoft’s Kinect is a wonderful piece of technology that seems to know no bounds. Microsoft Research is now using it to bridge the gap between folks who don’t speak the same language, whether they can hear or not. As you can see in the video below, the Kinect Sign Language Translator is a research prototype that can translate sign language into spoken language and vice versa. In short, Kinect captures the gestures, while machine learning and pattern recognition programming help interpret the meaning. While this is clearly a massive achievement, there is still a huge amount of work ahead. Guobin Wu, the program manager of the Kinect Sign Language Translator project, explains that recognition is by far the most challenging part of the project. Wu says there are more than 20 million people in China who are hard of hearing, and an estimated 360 million such people around the world. ➤ Kinect Sign Language Translator part 1 and part 2 Top Image Credit: Microsoft
Bostrom Responds to Fukuyama’s Assertion that Transhumanism is World’s Most Dangerous Idea Nick Bostrom (Sept 10, 2004) “What idea, if embraced, would pose the greatest threat to the welfare of humanity?” This was the question posed by the editors of Foreign Policy in the September/October issue to eight prominent policy intellectuals, among them Francis Fukuyama, professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and member of the President’s Council on Bioethics. And Fukuyama’s answer? Transhumanism, “a strange liberation movement” whose “crusaders aim much higher than civil rights campaigners, feminists, or gay-rights advocates.” More accurately, transhumanists advocate increased funding for research to radically extend healthy lifespan and favor the development of medical and technological means to improve memory, concentration, and other human capacities. According to transhumanists, however, the choice whether to avail oneself of such enhancement options should generally reside with the individual.
The World's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies In The Internet Of Things - StumbleUpon 1. Nest (Google) For solving yet another pain point in building the smart home. Following its game-changing "learning thermostat," Nest released the Protect smoke detector, again infusing a previously design-neglected home appliance with modern detail and functionality. From the Protect’s hands-free silencer and voice controls to its smartphone notifications and battery monitor, Nest has produced the first nonannoying smoke detector—and picked up $3.2 billion in cash from Google along the way. 2. For having the bright idea to make smartphone-tethered bulbs. 3. For unleashing simple connected products for the cautious consumer. Monitor your home. 4. For upping the activity-tracking game with a next-gen, supercharged wristband. 5. For opening a platform of Internet-wise devices to let users customize their connected homes. 6. For strengthening its products to stand out among the quantified-self crowd. 7. For giving users control of whatever’s plugged in. 8. 9.
Institute - Bioethics - Articles/News - The Transhumanists: By: Wesley J. SmithNational Review OnlineSeptember 20, 2002 Original article In recent years, scientists have mixed the DNA of a jellyfish with that of a monkey, creating a "transgenic" animal that glows in the dark. ("Transgenic" means possessing the genes of more than one type of organism.) Other researchers are creating transgenic animals that contain minute quantities of human DNA. But what about human transgenic research? Welcome to the surreal world of "transhumanism," a nascent and explicitly eugenic philosophy that advocates taking control of human evolution through gene modification. Transhumanists are breaking the intellectual ground they hope will eventually lead to public acceptance of genetic manipulation — not just to improve health, but to change our very natures. Transhumanists are biotech absolutists. Transhumanist theory has arisen in the context of a strengthening nexus between the views already popular in bioethics and animal-rights advocacy. — Wesley J.
Forget WiFi, It's LiFi: Internet Through Lightbulbs - StumbleUpon Whether you’re using wireless internet in a coffee shop, stealing it from the guy next door, or competing for bandwidth at a conference, you’ve probably gotten frustrated at the slow speeds you face when more than one device is tapped into the network. As more and more people—and their many devices—access wireless internet, clogged airwaves are going to make it increasingly difficult to latch onto a reliable signal. But radio waves are just one part of the spectrum that can carry our data. What if we could use other waves to surf the internet? One German physicist, Harald Haas, has come up with a solution he calls “data through illumination”—taking the fiber out of fiber optics by sending data through an LED lightbulb that varies in intensity faster than the human eye can follow. Haas says his invention, which he calls D-Light, can produce data rates faster than 10 megabits per second, which is speedier than your average broadband connection. Photo (cc) via otto-otto.com
NATURAL BORN CYBORGS? NATURAL BORN CYBORGS? By Andy Clark We cannot see ourselves aright until we see ourselves as nature's very own cyborgs: cognitive hybrids who repeatedly occupy regions of design space radically different from those of our biological forbears. The hard task, of course, is now to transform all this from (mere) impressionistic sketch into a balanced scientific account of the extended mind. Introduction "As our worlds become smarter, and get to know us better and better," writes cognitive scientist Andy Clark, "it becomes harder and harder to say where the world stops and the person begins." Clark's examines the"potent, portable machinery linking the user to an increasingly responsive World Wide Web," as well as "the gradual smartening-up and interconnection of the many everyday objects which populate our homes and offices." ANDY CLARK is Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex, UK. See Andy Clark's Edge Bio Page NATURAL BORN CYBORGS?
Kinect-like technology turns any surface into a touchscreen - StumbleUpon Imagine a world where any surface could potentially become a touchscreen for your phone: your hands, clothes, a wall or table. That's the vision behind a new Kinect-like technology called OmniTouch, a wearable system that projects any multi-touch interface onto everyday surfaces, reports New Scientist. Perhaps the most convenient aspect of the technology is how it can be operated on the go, requiring no special calibration for each new surface it is used on. The system adapts easily to surfaces of most textures in 3D space, so it works even when the surface is not flat, such as with your hand, or perhaps a tree trunk. The technology, which is primarily composed of a shoulder-mounted depth camera and a Pico-projector, was developed by researchers at Microsoft and is a vast improvement over previous prototypes that could only work on skin. The device also allows for user flexibility far beyond the capability of your phone or tablet.
Transhumanism For the United Nations, relevance may be almost as perilous as irrelevance. In the span of a year, the Bush administration went from taunting the world body to begging for its help. A beefed-up U.N. team will soon arrive in Baghdad to advise the Iraqi government on reconstruction, social services, and human rights and directly assist with elections. Although some U.N. backers revel in the growing global reliance on the world body, now is no time to get smug. The idea that the United Nations can stumble along in its atrophied condition has powerful appeal in capitals around the world -- and even in some offices at U.N. headquarters. Regrettably, most of those who could change the organization have an interest in resisting reform. Much U.N. Permanent membership on the Security Council -- granted to the Second World War victors (plus France) -- is woefully anachronistic. The Commission on Human Rights, the 53-state forum based in Geneva, has become a politicized farce.
Acoustic Levitation and the Tractor Beam, the Impossible just became Incredible... - StumbleUpon Levitation and the defiance of gravities surly bond has been a science that struggled to keep up with its own mythology, until now. A team of Japanese researchers have this week demonstrated the first technology that not only brings the mythology of levitation to life but leap frogs it to create a tractor beam, lifting and moving objects across 3 dimensions using sound alone. Presented for your viewing pleasure is the astounding video of acoustic levitation in action, now including tractor beam. Sit back relax and prepare to watch the future arrive, gliding effortlessly. Scientists from the University of Tokyo and Nagoya Institute of Technology are now able to levitate and move any object in 3 dimensions. The size is currently limited to objects only a few millimetres in size; ideally the object must be smaller than the size of the wave being used. Acoustic levitation is only in its infancy, with so many science fiction dreams requiring levitation let’s hope the developments continue.
What does Oscar Pistorius’s success at the Olympics mean for the future of cybernetics? As someone who had to wear a prosthetic for 18 years before just plain giving up, I guess we might be concerned if they do manage to become good enough to warrant people wanting to replace biology with cybernetics. But considering that the prosthetic arm/hand I had could barely open/close and had a death grip that was utterly useless, I can't quite see this stuff happening anytime soon. People may think it'd be cool to have a robot hand but from what I've seen, it's really only useful for people who had to be amputated due to an injury or illness. Legs are a different story as clearly seen with the photo. German multicopter makes first manned flight. - StumbleUpon It had to happen, and it was almost certainly going to be in Germany. Congratulations have to goto the team at e-volo they have possibly created a new manned flight platform, the first for many years. The platform of choice for many sUAS operators, the multicopter has been super sized to such an extent that manned flight is now possible. In their own words the team from e-volo have the following to say. Simple flight for the average person would be a dream come to reality for us. e-volo and their manned multicopter The motors as well as control systems will be continuously worked on and developed to allow for extended flight time as well as a more efficient usage of available onboard energy. Coming from an ultralight background, safety is written large in our books. Optimization of energy usage in charging and durability in battery life is currently one of the largest problems in electrically powered transportation. The team point to a key advantage for electric flight.
Singularity: Kurzweil on 2045, When Humans, Machines Merge On Feb. 15, 1965, a diffident but self-possessed high school student named Raymond Kurzweil appeared as a guest on a game show called I've Got a Secret. He was introduced by the host, Steve Allen, then he played a short musical composition on a piano. The idea was that Kurzweil was hiding an unusual fact and the panelists — they included a comedian and a former Miss America — had to guess what it was. On the show (see the clip on YouTube), the beauty queen did a good job of grilling Kurzweil, but the comedian got the win: the music was composed by a computer. Kurzweil got $200. Kurzweil then demonstrated the computer, which he built himself — a desk-size affair with loudly clacking relays, hooked up to a typewriter. But Kurzweil would spend much of the rest of his career working out what his demonstration meant. That was Kurzweil's real secret, and back in 1965 nobody guessed it. Computers are getting faster. True? Probably.